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Ustād or Usthad or Ustāth (abbreviated as Ust., Ut. or Ud.; from Persian wikt:استاد, Armenian:Ուստա) is one of the highest honorific titles for a man used in the Middle East, South Asia and Southeast Asia. It is used in various languages of the Muslim world, including Arabic, Armenian, Persian, Urdu, Punjabi, Pashto, Turkish, and Kurdish languages.
The title precedes the name and was historically usually used for well-regarded and most respected teachers and artists, most often musicians (meaning 'master'), and is applied and used via informal social agreement. Apprentices refer to their teachers as Ustad for lifetime to show the appreciation of teaching them the art.
Aside from the honorific, the word is generally used by its literal meaning to refer to any teacher, master or expert in Urdu.
In Armenian the word is usually spelled "usta" and has the meaning of expert or master. Although the word is not used in formal language, it is widely used in everyday speech.
The title is also used for qualified Islamic scholars in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore. In these countries the title is officially spelt "ustaz", but commonly pronounced "ustad". It is a direct equivalent of terms such as Shaykh in the Arab world, and Mawlānā or Mawlavi in the Indian Subcontinent. In the Maldives, the title is used by people who possess a bachelor's degree or above in the field of law.
- Baily, John (2001). "Ustād". In Sadie, Stanley. The New Grove dictionary of music and musicians (2nd ed.). London: Macmillan Publishers. ISBN 0-333-60800-3.
- Platts dictionary